My Bloody Valentine’s creative courage shines through

New album more than an exercise in nostalgia

When it comes to pop music, expectation is a fickle thing. It’s exciting, motivating, and when expectations are met or exceeded, there’s no greater sense of euphoria.

Unfortunately, expectation also carries the risk of letdown.

My Bloody Valentine (Kevin Shields, Debbie Googe, Colm O'Ciosoig and Belinda Butcher) photographed in the early 1990's.

My Bloody Valentine (Kevin Shields, Debbie Googe, Colm O’Ciosoig and Belinda Butcher) photographed in the early 1990’s.

The threat of letdown is huge with the surprise arrival of mbv, My Bloody Valentine’s long-awaited (we’re talking 20-plus years) follow-up to their iconic masterpiece, Loveless.

After all this time, the cards are stacked against Kevin Shields and company. Evaluating mbv by comparing it to Loveless is sure to disappoint.

The structural predictability that marked previous albums Isn’t Anything, and to a lesser degree Loveless, has been almost entirely discarded. Instead, Shields commits himself to developing the tonality and sonic assault that are synonymous with My Bloody Valentine.

While it is quite consciously (and loudly) a My Bloody Valentine record, mbv is very much a transfer of ideas and aesthetics from the early 1990s into the twenty-first century.

Much of the record involves Shields updating and diversifying his sound palate and songwriting tendencies, making mbv a truly great record and an early candidate for 2013’s best record. [pullquote align=”right”][The new album] is very much a transfer of ideas and aesthetics from the early 1990s into the twenty-first century. [/pullquote]

From start to finish, mbv is a strange twist of nostalgia. The opener, “She Found Now” sets a clear tone with a familiar drone, bleeding into Bilinda Butcher’s ethereal vocals in the dreamy “Only Tomorrow”, reminding us why we waited so long for the noisy Dubliners’ return.

Experimentation in the second half of the record signals creative courage: the result is a refreshing take on old sensibilities that demonstrate that the band can move forward from past sounds.

While later tracks, like the jarring noise romp of “Nothing Is” or the chaotic closer, “Wonder 2”, aren’t poised to draw in the casual listener, mbv succeeds in quenching the thirst of My Bloody Valentine fans.

The record refrains from merely paying homage to the band’s past. Instead, mbv signals room for further growth and development, offering a different version on something we’ve come to love.
OVERALL RATING: A[hr]

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